On the orders of George Washington the Continental Army burned the village of Coreorgonel in what is now Ithaca in September 1779. The town was occupied by Tutelo people, who had fled the British and were taken in by the Cayugas of the Six Nations. Washington’s orders to lay waste and devastation to the tribes of the Six Nations, burn their villages and destroy their crops with the objective being “their total destruction and devastation and the capture of as many persons of every age and sex as possible.” Painting by Glenn Norris; image provided by the History Center of Tompkins County.
In the US, as the country celebrates the 4th of July, more are understanding that the so-called “founding fathers” have taken credit for a mass movement of colonists who sought independence, where nearly 100 “Declarations of Independence” were written before the Jefferson version; and where the issues of racism, sexism, and ethnic cleansing of the Indigenous were not recognized. Rather than celebrating the slave-owning plutocrats who hijacked this country we celebrate those who continue the struggle for self-determination here and around the world.
The struggle, as we can see in Greece, is against the plutocratic bankers who profit while the 99 percent suffer the consequences of their wealth extraction. True independence is a worldwide struggle that is ongoing.
It is essential that we understand the true history of the United States and how it plays out today in order to transform the world to be more just and sustainable. Bill Bigelow of the Zinn Education Project provides excellent references in “Celebrating the Fourth of July is a Cartoon in Miseducation.”
For a better understanding of the utter brutality used to take land and fund the founding of the US, read “Indigenous Peoples History of the United States” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. She describes the roots of the “American Way of War” that means total annihilation – destroying food crops, terrorizing women, children and the elderly and killing all potential fighters without concern for the non-fighters of any age or sex that die with them. That brutality continues today in subtler but still violent ways beginning with economic embargoes and sanctions to shock and awe aerial bombardments and constant drone attacks.
The Indigenous Peoples of the United States continue to be mistreated, for example the taking of Indigenous land, including Sacred Sites, and giving it to corporations so they can extract its wealth as is happening in Arizona. Tomorrow the Apache Stronghold convoy begins its journey to Washington. Click here to learn more about their struggle and how you can support them. This is an opportunity to begin to reverse the long practice of exploitation of Indigenous Nations.
White Supremacist Violence
Bree Newsome describes why she scaled the flag pole in Charleston after the massacre to take down the confederate flag. She says: “I removed the flag not only in defiance of those who enslaved my ancestors in the southern United States, but also in defiance of the oppression that continues against black people globally in 2015….”
Newsome is active with the growing Freedom Side movement of black and brown youth working to build more inclusive, economically just and democratic institutions. United We Dream, also a member of Freedom Side, held an action outside the White House this week to protest the detention of LGBTQ immigrants and their mistreatment.
A part of the increasing awareness of injustice is the role of structural violence, which comes in many forms, and its roots in a hierarchical social order where a few exploit the many for profit. This is explored in depth by Marc Pilisuk and Jennifer Rountree in “The Hidden Structure of Violence.”
There are many current examples. The Obama administration is moving forward with the triad of treaties, the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade-in Services Agreement (TiSA). Recent leaks of the TPP and TiSAreveal the harm they will cause by driving a global race to the bottom in worker rights, wages, health and destruction of the planet. The TiSA leak should enrage every local government as Wikileaks reports their loss of control over their local ecoomy: “The draft Annex aims to reduce procurement regulation to ensure that TiSA governments will not favour local services over services supplied by foreign multinationals.”
Walden Bello tells us that the TPP is the economic arm of Obama’s Asian Pivot to surround China and he urges us to rise up together and resist it. Popular Resistance will continue to organize to stop the triad of treaties. Take the pledge to join the TPP Resistance.
That pivot also has a military arm which includes building more US military bases and running military drills in ecologically sensitive areas in South Korea, Okinawa, the Maldives and the Philippines where there are strong community opposition. This week during a commemoration of the battle of Okinawa, the audience heckled Japanese Prime Minister Abe for his support of increased militarization and a new base in Henoko. A protest of the Asian Pivot was also held in Manila.
The struggle in Peru over the Tia Maria Copper Mine demonstrates what our future will be like if the triad of treaties passes. It includes more land grabs, environmental degradation and militarized oppression of those who resist.
The US and Global Elites Block Struggles for Independence
Another new book, “Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle in Iraq” by Ali Issa shows more hidden history of the vibrant nonviolent movement that was working to oust Saddam Hussein before the US occupation violently disrupted it.
An international coalition, Freedom Flotilla III, attempted once again to end the blockade of Gaza. As the four boats approached Gaza, the Israeli military intercepted the lead boat, used violence against the peaceful passengers and jailed them in Hebron. The other boats turned around to avoid the fate of the Freedom Flotilla II in which nine passengers were killed by the Israelis but Israel was never prosecuted.
Greece is at a critical crossroads this weekend after being the first developed country to miss a payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Tomorrow Greek citizens will vote on a referendumover whether or not to accept bailout conditions, which include severe austerity measures, imposed by the European Union.
Historical context is essential to understand the situation in Greece as since World War II the US, United Kingdom and Germany have repeatedly abused Greece and pushed it toward neoliberal oligarchy. The IMF intentionally acted to provide inadequate support to Greece after its economic collapse and to protect investors and elites.
There is a strong movement to vote “No” on the referendum which has held massive protests recently, including the largest crowd last night since 1974 when the dictatorship ended. But the elites are doing all they can through their control of the media to convince the people to vote “Yes.” Seumas Milne of the Guardian writes that the EU is using this as an opportunity for regime change in Greece and to end the rise of Leftist governments such as Syriza and Podemos.
A Few Victories to Celebrate
There are active movements in the US and abroad working for justice and gains are being made. Reclaim the American Dream reports that 16 states and 500 cities have voted to repeal Citizens United.
A Supreme Court ruling in Oklahoma this week opened the door to lawsuits against oil companies for damage caused by fracking earthquakes.
Also this week, a court in Washington State ruled in favor of youth who petitioned for limits to carbon emissions.
So let’s celebrate the global movement to stop the violent neoliberal agenda and transform the world to a place where all people are treated equitably with peace and social, economic and environmental justice for all. And let’s understand our true history so we don’t repeat it. Today, let’s celebrate the ongoing struggles of millions around the globe for true independence and not the founding myths on which the United States is built.